Since the 1985-86 season when the Presidents’ Trophy was introduced, only 7 of the winners have won the Stanley Cup in the same season. Of course, only four other Presidents’ Trophy winners had lost in the first round of the playoffs (the most recent being the Detroit Red Wings, who lost to the Edmonton Oilers in 2006). The Ducks became the fourth team to knock the Presidents’ Trophy winner out in the first round of the playoffs. Were they surprised? Not at all. The whole playoffs, the Ducks have been saying they didn’t think they were out of their league and they could beat the Sharks. Clearly, they were right. Throughout the playoffs, I didn’t talk to many people who had predicted the Ducks would win before the playoffs started. Most people I talked to before the playoffs thought my Ducks in 6 prediction was completely nuts. They told me how the Sharks had performed in April didn’t matter and their history of collapsing in the playoffs didn’t matter. I disagree. The Sharks ended the season just cruising and barely hanging on to their league best record and while I realize that history isn’t always a good indicator of the future since teams change, a lot of the current team were a part of the Sharks teams that lost in the conference semifinals the last few years.
The start of the night (Getzlaf dropping the gloves as soon as the puck dropped – 2 seconds into the game – and fighting Thornton) may have surprised a lot of fans and media, but Randy Carlyle & Ryan Getzlaf were not surprised. They had discussed the Thornton/Getzlaf fight idea and whether it was a good idea. Carlyle told Getzlaf it was his choice. He said he’s never been the type of coach to send a player out to fight, but he was happy with Getzlaf’s choice.
Hiller continued to look amazing in net and though the Ducks couldn’t stay out of the penalty box for long (12 penalties, 30 minutes) neither could the Sharks, who had exactly the same penalty minutes. Hiller kept the Sharks to one goal on the power play (they were 1-4), while the Ducks went 2 for 5 on the power play.
Since they’ve beaten the team with the best record in the NHL this season, the Ducks have a lot of confidence going into the series against the Red Wings. The Red Wings clearly have an amazing playoff history and swept the Blue Jackets in the first round, but the Ducks still believe they can compete at a higher level than they have so far and face the Red Wings with confidence. After saying that they’d think about facing the Red Wings tomorrow and for now they’d enjoy their win, Randy Carlyle joked that he decided he’d give the team a half hour to enjoy the win, then it’s back to work.
Tags: Blue Jackets, Ducks, fans, fighting, Hockey, Jonas Hiller, NHL, Oilers, penalties, playoffs, Presidents' Trophy, Randy Carlyle, Red Wings, Ryan Getzlaf, Scott Thornton, Sharks
The Ducks were bound to lose a game to the Sharks. There was no way they could sweep the winner of the President’s Trophy.
See my HockeyBuzz blog about it.
Tags: Ducks, Hockey, Jonas Hiller, NHL, playoffs, power play, Randy Carlyle, Sharks
Perhaps those of us who predicted the Ducks to win the series aren’t that crazy after all…
Even most Ducks fans I know picked the Sharks to win this series. Perhaps some of them are reconsidering at this point. The Sharks were completely dominant (32-5-4) at home this season, but the Ducks shut them out in game 1 and won game 2, too. The Sharks have only scored 2 goals against the Ducks in two games and have gone 0-12 in the power play. The Ducks’ regular season penalty kill wasn’t that great (23rd in the NHL) and the Sharks’ power play was ranked 3rd, but the Ducks have figured out how to stop the Sharks on the power play.
Hiller has been absolutely amazing for the Ducks. He stopped 35 shots in game 1 and 42 shots in game 2. He has definitely been their number one star. Perhaps he wants to prove everyone who doubted that he has what it takes to lead a team in the playoffs wrong. He was in the top 5 for save percentage most of the season (just dropping out of the top 5 at the very end of the season, but remaining in 6th place) and is clearly capable of handling the pressure of the playoffs and being peppered with shots in the visiting team’s arena.
The Ducks had more penalties in both games against the Sharks, which isn’t surprising given their history, but they managed to get away with killing all 6 of the Sharks’ power plays.
Anaheim shot the puck a lot more in game 2 (26 shots in game 2 compared to 17 in game 1), but so did the Sharks (44 shots in game 2, 35 in game 1). The Ducks blocked 21 shots, too. Clearly, Randy Carlyle will want his team to shoot more and prevent the Sharks from shooting quite as much when they return home to face the Sharks in game 3 on Tuesday. He’ll also want the team to take fewer penalties (he’s been working on that forever), but the Ducks are winning and you can’t really argue with that.
If you missed the game for some reason tonight, look online to watch the goals – some of them were really great, particularly Bobby Ryan’s dive for his own rebound on the first goal for the Ducks.
See the rest on HockeyBuzz.
As a side note, I think those of us in southern California who have HD should not be punished for living in southern CA. Since FSN has chosen to only air the Ducks’ playoff games on FSN PT and not their HD channel, those of us in the area can’t see the game in HD even though Versus is showing it everywhere else. I think if FSN is going to choose to air games in HD their ratings should suffer. I would pick the HD version of the game any day. Heck, I’d even pick the HD version of a Kings game over being able to have Bob Miller and Jim Fox’s comentary (though if given that choice I might try to watch more games live and have the sound coming from their broadcast).
Tags: Bobby Ryan, Ducks, fans, FSN, HD, Hockey, Jonas Hiller, NHL, playoffs, power play, Randy Carlyle, Sharks, Versus
I know many will say “Finally? Therrien just took the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals last season!” However, I would argue that the talented team got Therrien to the finals and not the other way around. Sometimes, a team is just too talented to allow management to see that their coaching choice wasn’t the best. I’ve wanted Therrien fired for a long time (ask anyone who knows me well – they’ll all say I was the first to mention the idea to them. Therrien often said his team wasn’t prepared when the Pens didn’t show up for a game. As I’ve mentioned many times, that seems to be the number one job of a head coach – make sure your team shows up for each and every game. With a team like the Penguins (they have the #1 & 2 scorers in the NHL), this should not be difficult. Barry Melrose didn’t last long in Tampa Bay, but I’m guessing even he could motivate these guys.
I’ve always thought the way Therrien changes lines during each game was an issue. Though Colby Armstrong pointed out that the Penguins knew Therrien changed lines more often than any other coach out there before they promoted him to the Penguins head coach (from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, their AHL affiliate), I’m not sure they fully examined the down side of this approach at the NHL level. Perhaps it works better with young players, which would explain why it was initially effective for the Penguins.
I don’t see how a team with the two top scorers in the NHL (or two of the top three, since Ovechkin and Crosby have gone back and forth this season) can excuse having a power play that’s 6th worst in the NHL. While I understand that the Pittsburgh power play took a huge hit without Gonchar and Whitney earlier in the season, a team with so many talented players should be able to move past that obstacle. I also understand how important Colby Armstrong and Ryan Malone were to the Penguins. However, as in the days of Mario Lemieux & Jaromir Jagr, the Penguins should be able to move on and keep winning with qualified substitutions as other players move to other teams making more money than they may currently be worth.
Dan Bylsma may have better luck with the NHL Penguins than his predecessor. I’m sure all Penguins are hoping he will. If nothing else, the Pens should have the initial winning streak most teams experience when they get a new coach. The good news for all Penguins fans is that (unlike many teams in the past) the Penguins have made the move to fire Therrien in plenty of time to turn the down turn of their season around and make the playoffs. Shero saw the Penguins fall out of the playoff standings and took action. The Penguins are currently ranked 10th in the east, 5 points behind 7th and 8th.
With Therrien gone from the Penguins, the talk will certainly turn to who’s next to lose his job as head coach in the NHL. Will it be Tom Renney of the New York Rangers? Randy Carlyle of the Anaheim Ducks? Someone else? Time will tell. A few people I talked to tonight at the Ducks game think Randy Carlyle should be worried and I’m sure he’s thought about the possibility that he might lose his job, but I think there might be enough excuses in Anaheim to save him long enough for Tom Renney to be fired first. New York is also a much tougher market than Anaheim. The Ducks just don’t have the fan base the Rangers do and the intensity of the media coverage may be another factor in how long each coach can last. Of course, I did not think the Penguins (who gave Therrien a 3-year contract extension after they made the Stanley Cup Finals last year) would be the first to fire their coach, so perhaps the Ducks will surprise me and move more quickly than the Rangers. Either way, I think both coaches are probably thinking about what they plan to do after their current team fires them.
Tags: AHL, Alex Ovechkin, Barry Melrose, Colby Armstrong, Dan Bylsma, Ducks, fans, Hockey, Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux, Michel Therrien, NHL, Penguins, Randy Carlyle, Rangers, Ray Shero, Ryan Malone, Ryan Whitney, Scranton, Sergei Gonchar, Stanley Cup Finals, Tom Renney, Wilkes-Barre